The 10 per cent solution

Columnist and MLA Bob Simpson talks about the CUPE event that took place in Quesnel.

I had the pleasure of attending a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) sponsored event in Quesnel last week at which CUPE B.C. President Barry O’Neill outlined the union’s campaign to create a “10 per cent shift” in people’s spending habits in favour of local producers and businesses.

This is a timely and worthwhile campaign that merits closer attention from local government and business organizations in our region.

The 10 per cent shift campaign is intended to show people they can actively help to create sustainable economic growth in their communities by deliberately shifting 10 per cent of their existing household spending to local goods and services and locally owned businesses. Ideas and examples of how to make this shift are provided on the campaign’s website, www.tenpercentshift.ca, along with an opportunity to take the “10 per cent pledge.”

During the session in Quesnel, O’Neill gave numerous examples of communities that have actively promoted this shift in spending and the positive, and cumulative, impacts that accrued to workers and businesses alike. Given the sorry and uncertain state of the global economy, anything we can do to foster a stronger local economy will help us all in the long run.

While the overall intent of CUPE’s campaign is similar to other “shop local” initiatives, the key difference is the specific target it establishes for spending locally and the fact that a large public sector union is actively educating its members about the community benefits of keeping their money circulating in their local economy. The shift O’Neill is promoting should become part of our overall strategy to mitigate the economic impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, and I applaud his and CUPE BC’s efforts to get us all to support our local economies.

Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.